Online Conversazione ~ Lily, Glencora, Ayala, and Isabel

Professor Deborah Denenholz Morse was the inaugural Sara E. Nance Eminent Professor of English at William & Mary (2017-22) and was designated a Plumeri Faculty Excellence Scholar a second time for 2022-24. Deborah is the author of Women in Trollope’s Palliser Novels (1987) and Reforming Trollope: Race, Gender, and Englishness in the Novels of Anthony Trollope (2013). Deborah co-edited The Politics of Gender in the Novels of Anthony Trollope (with Margaret Markwick and Regenia Gagnier, 2009) and The Routledge Research Companion to Anthony Trollope (with Margaret Markwick and Mark Turner, 2016). Her most recent articles on Trollope are “Mourning Glencora” in My Victorian Novel (2020), edited by Annette Federico, and “Handling Private Dramas of Class and Gender in Anthony Trollope’s The Duke’s Children” in Victorian Hands: The Manual Turn in Nineteenth-Century Body Studies (2020), edited by Pete Capuano and Sue Zemka.

Lily, Glencora, Ayala, and Isabel: Female Desire and Women’s Rights in Anthony Trollope’s Novels

Anthony Trollope created memorable desiring heroines in Lucy Robarts (Framley Parsonage, 1861), Lily Dale (The Small House at Allington, 1864), and Ayala Dormer (Ayala’s Angel, 1881). In the late 1870s during the fierce struggle for women’s rights, on the cusp of the 1882 Married Women’s Property Act, Trollope embodied this ideal heroine in American Isabel Boncassen (The Duke’s Children, 1880), who is based upon Trollope’s close feminist friend Kate Field. Isabel marries Silverbridge after making her vision of marriage on “terms of equality” as clear as her longing for him, asserting the right to choose a marriage which promises both erotic fulfillment and equality.

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